By Berry Kercheville
I was 15. The classroom was filled with kids from their Freshmen to Senior year. This was a meeting of all the agriculture students to see who would be interested in joining the FFA (Future Farmers of America). I sat timidly as the teacher wrote down the names of students who volunteered. Then all eyes turned to me.
“Are you joining, Kerch?”
“I’d like to join,” I stammered, “but I can’t come to the meetings be- cause I go to church on Wednesday nights.”
From the back of the room someone hollered, “You can’t join if you don’t come to the meetings!”
Then one of the Juniors looked across the aisle and shouted, “What’s the matter with you Kercheville? You want to go to heaven or something?” The room roared with laughter.
A year later, after making straight A’s in my Ag classes, the rule for Wednesday night attendance to the FFA meetings was waived and I was allowed to join. At the end of my Junior year, having never attended a meeting, some members of the club greeted me at school on Thursday morning with the news that I had been voted president of the FFA for the following year. I said, “That’s great! My first order of business is to change the meeting to Thursday nights.”
My parents never told me that I couldn’t attend the FFA meetings. Even years before, when I had Little League games that conflicted with worship, they never made the rule that I had to miss the game. But I did. When it came time for school dances, my parents never forbade me to go. But I didn’t go. It wasn’t that I was an extra good kid. I got more “whippin’s” than any of my siblings. You see, God was first around our house. Spiritual things were a daily topic of conversation. God and his Word were spoken of when we rose up, when we lay down, when we walked by the way (rode in the car), and when we sat in the house (Deut. 6:6-7). We were never specifically “told” to read our Bible. We were encouraged to because Mom and Dad were always reading and teaching us what they read. The message we got was loud and clear: nothing came before God and doing his will.
That doesn’t seem to be the standard in many families any more. In each of the six gospel meetings I have preached this past year, I have had at least one person come up to me and say something like, “These lessons have been so good I sure hate to miss tomorrow night, but we have (fill in the blank: soccer, back to school night, Girl Scouts, etc.).” One person told me he wouldn’t be back for Sunday evening worship because of a “soccer-fest.” When I replied in amazement, “You are missing worship for soccer?” He said, “Oh, I’ll get the tape!” Unfortunately, he had missed the point. However, my biggest surprise is not that many Christians are putting the world’s things before the Lord, but that they are so open about it. They act like no one in their right mind would deny a child their special activity just to go to worship. In fact, it isn’t the child that is feeling deprived, it is the parent.
Revelation 12:11 states, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” We as parents need to be practicing and teaching this kind of fierce, unwavering commitment to the Lord. Even the threat of death will not quiet the word of our testimony. Children recognize priorities in their simplest form. We cannot say, “It is only Wednesday evening worship or only Sunday evening worship.” It is what we do “instead of” something else that expresses what is important. It is whether we take time every week to tell our children about Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, and all the others, that makes a difference when they must make similar decisions. It is what we get most excited about and make sacrifices to do, that tells others, especially our children, where our heart is. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).